While recent violent events cast a pall of darkness over the world, the start of Hanukkah serves as a symbol of light and hope.

Westport’s four synagogues joined together Sunday evening to mark the start the eight-day holiday with a menorah lighting in the old Library Park downtown. Nearly 100 people were on hand to sing songs, sample sweets and share in the centuries-old celebration.

“We’re grateful to the town for supporting it,” said Rabbi Michael Friedman of Temple Israel. “It’s the second year we’re doing it and it’s really a wonderful, unique opportunity for the entire Jewish community to come together.”

“We all are very, very lucky to have a lot of light and miracles in the town we live in,” said Melissa Kane, RTM District 3, who organized the townwide Hanukkah event for the first time last year and hopes to see it continue.

“It is really part of the revitalization of downtown Westport,” she said.

“I think it’s beautiful,” said Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn of the Conservative Synagogue said of the celebration.

“We live in a world with so much darkness … that it’s nice to come together in the show of light for our community,” he said.

“It takes people back to their childhood,” said Cantor Dan Sklar of Temple Israel, noting the observance underscores the importance of childhood.

“There’s some beloved songs that people really associate with this time of year,” he said. “It’s like with Christmas carols.”

“I think it’s a nice tradition,” said Andrea Ruskin of Westport. “It’s really a family tradition to light the candles and sing, and I think it’s nice to be in the center of the community … anything to pull the community together, especially given recent events.”

“There’s diversity in this community and it should be celebrated,” said Rabbi Yehudah Leib Kantor of Chabad Lubavitch of Westport.

Like others, Kantor spoke about the importance of Hanukkah’s meaning. “We need to focus on bringing light into this world,” he said. “When you kindle a light it takes away darkness.